Not Just Friends: The emotional affair

As many of you may assume, a lot of my couples work involves helping couples work through the betrayal of infidelity. Affairs have three parts: the sexual betrayal, the emotional betrayal, and the dishonesty. Not all affairs are sexual, and not all affairs are emotional. This article is going to focus on the emotional affair.

According to the author of “Not Just Friends”, Shirley Glass, of the 210 unfaithful partners she treated, 82 percent had an affair with someone who was, at first, just a friend. It is happening to well-intentioned people, who never planned on straying from their partners. Today’s affairs are often originating from peer relationships, from people who were truly initially just friends or colleagues, but slowly move onto the slippery slope of infidelity. Secret emotional intimacy is usually the first warning sign, yet most don’t recognize it until they’ve become physically involved.

Quiz: Has Your Friendship Become An Emotional Affair?

Taken from “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass

1.Do you confide more to your friend than your spouse about how your day went?

2.Do you discuss negative feelings or intimate details about your marriage with your friend but not your spouse?

3.Are you open with your spouse about the extent of your involvement with your friend?

4.Would you feel comfortable if your spouse heard your conversation with your friend?

5.Would you feel comfortable if your spouse saw a videotape of your meetings?

6.Are you aware of sexual tensions in this friendship?

7.Do you and your friend touch differently when you’re alone than in front of others?

8.Are you in love with your friend?

Scoring: Add one point for each yes to #1, 2, 6, 7, 8 and each no for #3, 4, 5.

A score of 0, this is just a friendship.

A score of 3 or more, you may not be “just friends”.

A score of 7-8, you are definitely involved in an emotional affair.

Ways to Protect Your Marriage

A secure marriage is one that is surrounded by a protective wall to the outside world with open windows between partners where intimate information is shared. Here are some examples of how to achieve this:

Don’t discuss relationship problems with anyone that can be a potential alternative to your spouse. When you complain about your partner, or listen to someone else’s sad story, you develop intimacy. It can signal that you are too interested. I once heard someone say that bad-mouthing your spouse in public was advertising that you are available. Sharing your relationship problems with someone other than your partner opens up a window that can lead to an affair.

When you do need to talk to someone about your marriage, make sure it’s a friend of the marriage. They way we see our partner, and approach problem solving, can be negatively affected by other people’s negative bias and feedback.

Set appropriate boundaries with friends who talk about personal problems. It’s natural to want to rescue a friend in trouble, but don’t do it alone. Include your partner in your assisting others. Confidential investments in another person’s relationship problems can lead to becoming too emotionally involved.

Be a unified unit. Do not let people, problems, etc. split you and your partner. Maintain a unified front to deal with children, in-laws, and friends.

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